Roost is a social media management service that is winning fans among small business people because it lets them organize richer campaigns and boost their social media presence overall, while doing it in much less time. Like many competing products, it is a tool for posting to multiple social media websites at one time, or schedule posts in advance, so they are placed online like clockwork. But where Roost distinguishes itself is in guiding users on what to post, presenting them with pre-fab campaigns designed for variety (mixing status updates with photos, questions, and polls) and providing industry-specific libraries of content that can be used to fill in the blanks.
"We're trying to help the small business person who doesn't know how to do this stuff, or doesn't have time," Roost CEO Alex Chang said in an interview. "With this, they're taking 10 minutes on a Sunday night and creating a campaign that runs through the week."
Nicole Beauchamp, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty Partnership who specializes in apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said she probably spends more like 10 hours a week on social media--but Roost still helps her do it more efficiently. "I don't want to spend 18 hours a day in front of the computer," she said.
She has configured the Roost content library to include some of her own favorite RSS feeds, "and it's nice to have it all in one window," she said. "It means I don't have to go 10 different places to find content I want to share." Also, when one of her contacts clicks on a link, the target article is displayed within a banner across the top of the page that links back to her profile and makes it easy for that contact to like or share the item. "That's a nice way to publicize my brand without begging people to like my page," she said.
Jennifer Roberts, a marketing coordinator at Tom Kadlec Honda in Rochester, Minn., said the dealership uses Roost to schedule campaigns of social media posts that include content from Honda and each of its car brands, as well as relevant automotive articles from the Roost library. She also adds a healthy dose of her own content, such as customer quotes and photos taken at the dealership. Even with the benefit of the content library, doing the job right still takes some creativity and a personal touch, she said. "You're not having to go out to the Internet to find all the material, but you're still recommending it all."
Before she discovered Roost, she had been using Ping.fm, a more basic service for posting to multiple websites, but the scheduling facility in Roost made a big difference, Roberts said. "I'm not here in the dealership on weekends, but I can still have things set up to post with Roost."
The Roost model is somewhat like that of Hearsay Social, except that Hearsay caters to the local representatives of global or national businesses, feeding them content that has been blessed by the corporate office while leaving them the freedom to pick and choose and personalize the posts. The smaller businesses that Roost caters to are more likely to be on their own, but its content libraries serve the same purpose of providing a starting point for social media broadcasts. Roost users operating in the same region are also encouraged to form networking circles, where they agree to share each other's posts for broader distribution. Because the service is specifically targeted at local businesses, one of the metrics that the service provides is a score showing how many fans of the page are from the target geographic region--as opposed to random connections from around the web--so they know if they are reaching their target market.
All the Roost services offered so far are free, although Chang said premium offerings to round out the freemium model will follow by the end of the year, priced at $10 to $40 per month. "We'll still have the free version because people need to see if they are getting a return from this before they start paying," he said.
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